It has been said before that all good things must come to an end, and summer vacation is no exception to this rule. As summer is winding down, your mind may be shifting to all things back-to-school related. For some, the shift from the lazy days of summer to a more structured schedule is a welcome change; for others, the thought can be overwhelming.
To help set you and your family up for a successful school year, we asked Leslie Rebholz, a mom from Xenia, Ohio, to share some of the ways she helps make the back-to-school transition as smooth as possible for her family. Because who better to give tips than a parent who’s been through the experience many times?
What are some things you have incorporated over the years to help make a successful transition back to school?
Meet the teacher night helps kids to know where their classroom and desk will be. Also, the week before school starts, we get the kids in bed earlier by peeling back the time 5, 10, 15 minutes each night. Lastly, we have our kids pose for photos before school on the first day. You can make it fun with a sign. This way we get out to the bus stop early, too.
What advice do you have for parents sending their children to school for the first time who are worried about the transition?
As a mom, it’s easy to worry. Acknowledge worrying is a normal part of parenting. Your child looks to you be calm and stable.
Questions and open dialogue may help both you and your child with the transition. After school you could say, “Mommy missed you while you were at school today! Tell me about your day. What is one thing that was AWESOME? What is one thing you learned to do? What’s the name of your new friend? What was something that was not so fun?” Some other great questions are: Who did you sit next to at lunch? Do you have a classroom job? What did you learn about your new friend today? What are two things you are thankful for today?
Knowing your child will not always be under your roof all day is a milestone for you, and perhaps a healthy, or needed, break. While they are at school, you can accomplish tasks, or discover a new hobby; possibly care for yourself by exercising. Do something that fills your cup, makes you smile, even meet a friend for coffee or lunch! Mothering is no small task — you need a rest, too.
How do you get your children on a routine?
I have created laminated routines — before school, after school and bedtime — for each of my children. I let them select graphics to put next to the words, as my middle can’t read yet. These routines are posted in strategic places, such as the bathroom, bedroom and laundry room.
Any other parenting tips?
Remember that each child is created differently. What works for one may not work for the other. Get to know each of your children and find what motivates them. Have one-on-one time with each child as often as you can. Recently I read this quote, “The average adult touches their phone 150 times a day. Touch [hug, kiss, tickle, fist bump…] your child five times a day.”
I have learned, one thing that may work for one child, may not work for another. Remember, you’re in process as a parent too.
More back-to-school ideas:
- Read books about the first day of school (recommendation: Chu’s First Day of School by Neil Gaiman & Adam Rex).
- Have a “dress rehearsal” and practice getting up, getting ready and out the door the week before school.
- Celebrate the night before the first day of school with a special dinner.
- Make a special treat for the first day after school.